When the Orioles signed Welington Castillo, that seemed at the time to mark the end, if not yet officially, of the tenure of Matt Wieters with the Orioles. We’re now headed towards the end of January and Wieters is still unsigned. According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, there are still people with the Orioles open to bringing back Wieters on a one-year deal.
It’s a long shot idea, and maybe not even a good idea, but with each team that addresses its catching situation by signing someone who isn’t Wieters, the long shot becomes just a little bit more likely. The latest could-be Wieters destination that turned elsewhere was the Atlanta Braves, who have an agreement with Kurt Suzuki.
Crasnick cites “an insider with knowledge of the catching market” who believes the best fits remaining for Wieters are the Angels, Rockies, and maybe Reds. Those are three teams who had struggling 2016 catchers, had catchers become free agents, or both. And that’s three teams who would still have to look elsewhere to leave some kind of last resort deal open with the Orioles.
Not surprisingly, Crasnick says that it’s the “on-field people” with the Orioles who have more of the interest in Wieters back, in contrast to the analytics people, who have far less interest. The ones with interest seem to think that Wieters could split catching duties with Castillo and also do some DHing.
There’s not a whole lot that’s heartening about hearing that any Orioles people would want Wieters to do any DHing, particularly after the O’s just re-signed Mark Trumbo. In his career, Wieters has never hit well enough to be worth employing as a DH with any kind of frequency. After last season, he is a below league-average hitter in his career.
Figuring out the sharing of playing time would be complicated between Wieters and Castillo. What do you pay a guy who you’re not even expecting to be a full-time starter? Wieters isn’t likely to go for that unless every other door is closed to him. That could still happen, but he’s not there just yet.
We have come a long way from the days of fretting that Wieters would be poached away as a free agent by the Yankees for some huge free agent contract. Now, he is having a hard time even getting one year anywhere. Maybe that means he will end up back here after all.